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Authors: Alyssia Leon

Never Too Late

BOOK: Never Too Late
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Never Too Late
Alyssia Leon
SAGEWOOD PUBLISHING 
Never Too Late

Copyright © 2016 Alyssia Leon

www.alyssialeon.com

The moral rights of the author have been asserted

Published by Sagewood Publishing Ltd

First Digital Edition: July 2016

eISBN: 978-1-911519-01-0

[email protected] (business enquiries only)

All rights reserved. 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review as permitted by copyright law.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is purely coincidental.

Contains adult content, suitable for over 18s.

Never Too Late 

Molly King has a dream, a dream of marriage and family and babies. But when her sweetheart skips into their village with a glamorous babe on his arm, she finds her dream and reason for living suddenly torn away. 

Billionaire architect Jake Hennessy is running from the media and his past. Appleby is a far cry from the city lights he’s used to. But a few weeks spent buried in this forsaken village, renovating a crumbling manor house, sounds like just the right escape. That is until Molly comes along and turns his plans upside down.

Now all he wants is her.

A few nights with her.

Molly knows only too well the perils of love, but as she gets closer to Jake, her heart is in danger of being shredded to pieces all over again. Only, Jake isn’t looking for love, and he has plans for Barrowdene, Molly’s beloved manor house. When he leaves Appleby, Molly will find herself out on the streets along with her grandmother.

Life in this sleepy village is about to get rather shaky for a simple girl with a dream.

Table of Contents
 1

One fine summer evening, Molly King’s pride crashed to the floor and shattered into a million pieces. The sharp buzz of whispers filled the vicarage’s reception room along with the sound of fine teacups clinking back on to matching saucers, as sensing scandal, expectant eyes turned first to her and then to the handsome couple at the door.

Disbelief numbed Molly. She couldn’t rip her gaze from the two newcomers.

Then, the man she loved, slipped one arm around his stunning companion’s waist, pulled her close, and kissed her red lips.

Molly screamed inside.

“Brian, Abby, we’d almost given up on you.” Kathleen Harrington, their hostess, hurried over to the couple, her high voice a piercing trill that scraped across Molly’s jagged nerves.

Abby? Kathleen knew this woman?

“So sorry, Aunt Kath.” Brian kissed Kathleen’s angular cheek. “The traffic down from London was awful, but it’s great to be back in the old place and see everyone again.”

He said it loud enough for the room to hear, backing it up with that practiced charm-infused grin of his. People smiled back, murmuring their approval, and like happy little bewitched sheep, gathered around him at the door.

Her only way out was blocked.

She huddled in on herself at the opposite end of the large room, trapped by the tall arching windows behind her, and dreading the moment he saw her.

God, what a fool she was. He’d been gone three months and she’d wanted to wow him. She glanced down at the figure-hugging silk of her brand new turquoise dress, with its delicate lace sleeves and sweetheart neckline that presented her small cleavage like a gift. The soft silk tightened into a jewel-studded gathering at her hips before flowing mermaid style to her knees. What had she been thinking? She’d garnered plenty of looks when she’d entered the vicarage earlier, the sort of looks a call girl collects in church, but she’d wanted to show him she wasn’t frumpy, that she could be everything he wanted her to be. 

It had looked perfect in the boutique mirror yesterday, the turquoise colour making her light-blonde curls and pale-blue eyes shine, and the matching high-heels raising her diminutive five-foot-four to something decent. 

It wasn’t so perfect now.

Was it on purpose the beauty with him was the exact opposite of everything she was? The woman stood nearly as tall as Brian’s six foot in her baby-pink heels. Her matching pink sheath dress moulded her slender curves as if cut for her, and a curtain fall of chestnut-brown hair swished around her face, framing the luminance of her skin.

With a trembling hand, Molly smoothed back her wild nest of blonde curls. How did she even compete? She must look like a tacky cake-topper. Her only saving grace was that she wasn’t making a complete spectacle of herself right now. The turquoise heels had been unfamiliar and she’d stepped out in a comfortable pair of flat shoes instead. But that was hardly any consolation.

She looked up and her gaze collided with Brian’s. Satisfaction swept across his features, very much like a spider who’d spotted a fly, and she gasped. He was only a year older than her, but this wasn’t the laid-back lad who’d left Appleby three months ago. This Brian was polished, more in control. His usually tousled dark-brown hair was combed back in rigid perfection, his tall lean body was encased in a fine fitted navy suit, and the boyish charm of his lazy smile no longer made it all the way to his coal-black eyes. The city had swallowed up the country boy she’d known and spat out a cold sophisticated man.

He whispered something in his companion’s ear and the woman shot Molly a cool glance that gauged her from head to toe and dismissed her as irrelevant in the space of a second.

Sudden anger roiled through Molly, breaking through her numb shock and propelling her forward. How dare he… She didn’t have to stay here and take any of this.

But she’d only moved a step when Brian and his new girlfriend pushed through the crowd and made their way towards her. Curious gazes followed them. 

Just great! Reigning in her turbulent emotions, almost choking on them in the process, she managed to school her features into polite indifference as she waited.

“Molly, wonderful to see you.”

“Brian.” She didn’t return his smile.

“I’d like to introduce Abby.” He wrapped an arm around the brunette’s waist again. “My fiancée.”

Oh god! 

Was she still on her feet? 

Brian was watching her, sifting for her reaction to the ton of bricks he’d just dropped on her head. Hurt, shame, loss, all rioted in her, but she refused to give him the satisfaction. 

With a strength of will she was proud of, she forced a smile to her lips. “Fiancée? Congratulations.” 

Her nonchalance hit the mark. Brian’s eyes narrowed and the rest of the room lost interest. Abby, who’s eyes had glittered with thinly veiled hostility most likely because she knew who Molly was, visibly relaxed. Smiling, she raised her manicured left hand, oh so casually, making the pebble-sized diamond on her finger glitter fiercely in the sunlight.

“And such a beautiful ring,” Molly muttered on cue. 

She didn’t need to be an expert on diamonds to see that Brian had bought something worth far more than what the average villager made in a year. Her heart constricted as if a merciless hand had squeezed it dry.

Abby simpered. “It was all so fast, but we couldn’t be happier.” Her cultured voice had a breathless girlish quality that sat at odds with the keen light in her slate-blue eyes. 

The desperate need to put miles of distance between herself and this couple overwhelmed Molly. “I’m glad. If you’ll excuse me…?” And she moved to step past them.

But Brian’s quick hand on her arm stalled her. “Don’t run off yet, Molly. I told Abby you’d help with the wedding plans, you and Sophie and the other girls.”

What? No way! She snatched her arm back, glaring a warning at him. A warning he merely smirked away. 

“Daddy insists we have a church wedding,” Abby said, seemingly oblivious to the tension. “Nothing else will do. But we don’t want to wait too long, do we darling?” She smiled up at Brian.

A flicker of annoyance shot through Brian’s eyes and Molly stared, but it was gone as quick as it had come and he returned Abby’s smile. “Of course not. Uncle Ian can arrange it in a matter of weeks.” He raised Abby’s hands to his lips. “You’ll make a beautiful summer bride.”

Giggling, Abby turned to Molly. “It’s so exciting! Daddy wanted somewhere bigger, of course, but I can’t wait to get married in an old church with bells ringing and apple trees outside.” Her expression shifted to winsome pleading. “Oh do say you’ll help with the planning. It would be just fabulous if you did.”

Molly gritted her teeth. Either the woman was a total airhead, or she was gleefully rubbing Molly’s face in the ruins of a failed relationship. A love that, in Molly’s dreams, had got as far as Appleby’s church altar to promise her life like her mother and grandmother before her. The sharp sting of tears scorched her eyes and she blinked them back. She glanced at Brian, letting the pleading reminder of all he’d ever promised her fill that look, but his expression was unyielding, impassive, and her shoulders slumped in defeat. It was as if he was gone from her forever. 

On a steadying breath, she straightened. So be it, but she wouldn’t allow them to add insult to injury. She turned to Abby with all her dignity. “You’ll find plenty of other people to help you. Appleby’s a close-knit kind of place.”

“I’m sure. Such a quaint
little
village.” Abby’s cut-glass accent was dismissive.

Brian’s expression showed he hadn’t missed the emphasis on the word ‘little’. “You’ll love Appleby, darling. I’ll take you on a tour tomorrow.”

Molly smiled inwardly at his defensive tone, the imp of mischief rising in her. “Just be careful,” she said to Abby. “Those cowpats get everywhere. And those runaway goats? My god, but they’re a menace! They’ll gobble you whole, diamond ring and all.”

Abby’s expression cooled.

“It’s not like we’ll be living here once we’re married, darling,” Brian soothed, shooting Molly a quelling look.

Molly hid another smile. She’d exaggerated, but little Miss Precious more than deserved it. Then as suddenly as it had come, the lightness evaporated.

She shoved past them. “Excuse me. It’s getting late.”

“How’s your Nan, Molly?” Brian asked as she passed.

She stopped and turned back with a frown. “Fine. She’s fine.”

“I heard she had an operation a month ago, her leg, was it?”

“I didn’t know you still took an interest in things here, Brian.”

He shrugged. “I’ve missed the place.” His dark gaze captured and held hers. “And it is good to see you again, Molly.”

Hope beat in her chest like a crazed butterfly, and her yearning heart grabbed at the possible hidden meaning in his words before she could stop it. In desperation, she searched his eyes for something more.

“Darling.” Abby placed a hand on his chest, and his attention was at once hers. “It was such a long drive and I’m tired. Couldn’t we find somewhere quiet for a while?”

Abby’s tone held a hint of promise, and smiling, he bent to place a lingering kiss on her pouting lips. “Aunt Kath has our room prepared. Come on.”

Abby brightened like the cat that just got the cream, and clinging to the crook of Brian’s arm, she swept past Molly.

Molly stood paralyzed, watching them walk away. He’d been toying with her. He’d wanted to force a reaction from her, and naive clod that she was, she’d delivered it to him on a platter. How could she have been so weak? How could she still want him back?

Never again. She would never be so gullible again. And raging at herself, she rushed from the room to escape through the vicarage’s kitchen.

Kathleen’s gatherings were informal enough that people came and went as long as the tea and cakes lasted. No one would care if she slipped away early. She pushed the kitchen door open, and Appleby’s vicar pulled his head out of the low cupboard he’d been rummaging in.

BOOK: Never Too Late
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ads

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